With a full five day break from regular season games courtesy of the All-Star break, now is a fantastic time to dig through some stats that jump out at me. I like to call this “By the Numbers”, a little something the one and only David Gonos likes to do from time to time. If anything, it makes for some interesting conversation at the water cooler with the guys from your office league.
.227 – Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) currently owned by the Cubs Travis Wood. His breakout has relied on his ability to keep opposing batters off guard with his five pitch repertoire. The increased use of his cut fastball and slider at the expense of his curveball and changeup has been huge. Wood did his homework, and the stats told him those were his two best pitches last season.
0.24 – Home runs per nine innings (HR/9) allowed by Colorado Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, lowest in all of baseball. Definitely a remarkable number for a guy that has to play his home games at Coors Field. On the season he has given up just three long balls over 113 innings. One of those came at home, where he has had seven starts totaling 42.2 innings.
.357–The batting average with runners in scoring position owned by Allen Craig over his last 783 at-bats. We all know this guy can knock in some runs, but this is a pretty ridiculous number. His power has sagged a bit this season, but he is on pace to drive in 129 runs. The 28-year-old has proven his name belongs among the league’s elite with every swing.
.382 – BABIP of Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli, second highest in the league and 73 points higher than his career mark. Obviously, he is in store for a second half regression. The scary part, though, is he is hitting just .259. I just pawned him off in the only league I owned him in.
.458 – On-base percentage of Miguel Cabrera. This would amount to the best mark of his career, and further proof this guy just keeps getting better. He won’t come anywhere near the .609 mark posted by Barry Bonds back in ’04, but I can see his league-high number inching even higher before the season comes to a close.
.565 – On-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) owned by B.J. Upton of the Braves. His first season in Atlanta has been an absolute disaster. His move the National League has found him sporting just a .177 batting average while striking out in 32.1 percent of his plate appearances. Glad I listed him as a bust this year and avoided him like the plague in my leagues.
3.07 – Expected Fielder Independent Pitching (xFIP) owned by Tigers starter Rick Porcello; his ERA is 4.80. He has been a bit unlucky with the long ball, especially when you take into consideration he ranks third in the league in ground balls induced at 57.3 percent. His walks are down and strikeouts are up. The 24-year-old can put together a fine second half with a little better luck.
4 – Number of complete games tossed by Adam Wainwright over his first 20 starts, two of them shutouts. He leads the league in innings pitched with 146.2 and is on pace for 254.2, 20 innings more than his previous career high. I am wary here, and think we may see a second-half swoon courtesy of the workload.
6 – League-high number of blown saves by the Orioles Jim Johnson. Coincidentally, he also leads the league in saves with 33, leaving him on pace for 56 on the year; that’s if he keeps his job. Opposing batters are hitting .258 against him and he has issued 14 walks over his 43.2 innings pitched. Tommy Hunter has been fantastic setting him up and should be owned in deep mixed leagues.
15.43 – Strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) owned by Aroldis…. Check that, the Royals Greg Holland. His total is highest among all closers. Since giving up four earned runs in his first three appearances this year, he has given up just three since, a span of 33 appearances. He has been absolutely dominant this year.
17.6 – Percentage of swings and misses by the Pirates Pedro Alvarez. It’s 3.4 percentage points higher than his career average. The result has him striking out in a career high 32.6 percent of his plate appearances. He has had a monster first half, but he is prone to prolonged cold spells thanks to the holes in his swing. I suggest selling high.
28 – Stolen bases by the Pirates Starling Marte through his first 88 games. Last year, he set a career high with 33 over 146 games scattered between the Majors and Triple-A. We knew he had speed, but didn’t think it would be a game-changer. The 24 year old is on pace to hit 16 homers and swipe 49 bags this year.
38.6 – Percentage of sliders thrown this season by Madison Bumgarner. It has led to a fantastic first half, but should be a huge point of concern for anyone out there who owns him in a dynasty league. At 23, he has already logged 10,334 major league pitches; 33.6 percent of them sliders. Sure sounds like a recipe for a visit with Dr. James Andrews to me.
39 – Doubles hit by the Orioles Manny Machado, nine more than any other player in the league. The MLB record for doubles in a season is 67 by Earl Webb of the Red Sox back in 1931. Machado is on pace for 66. Having just turned 21 on July 6, this kid has been nothing short of amazing.
40.9 – Major league low in terms of the percentage of fastballs seen by Josh Hamilton this season. His lack of patience combined with the fact that he struggles with everything off-speed means opposing pitchers really don’t have to throw him a fastball unless the situation dictates it. Don’t hold your breath waiting on a second half break through.
48.4 – Percentage of pitches outside the strike zone swung at by Pablo Sandoval. He had a rough first half, and while this guy has always been a bit of a hacker, his lack of selectivity bit him. His numbers aren’t far off his career norms, though, so if he is healthy he should bounce back a bit in the second half.
56.4 – Percentage of balls hit on the ground by Eric Hosmer. Everyone and their mother are looking for where this kid’s power went. How about checking all the holes in the dirt he is making just outside the batter’s box. If he can’t get any lift in that swing he will never take his game to the next level.
63.4 – Strand rate owned by Matt Cain, the third worst percentage in the league. After putting up a career year last season, Lady Luck just hasn’t been on his side this year. There has been talk of him hiding an injury, but there hasn’t been any drop in velocity to suggest that. I see a nice buy low candidate for the second half. Things can’t get any worse here.
83.3 – League-best strand rate owned by the Pirates Jeff Locke. His 2.15 ERA and 1.13 WHIP are unsustainable for a guy that just doesn’t blow away opposing batters. Magically, he holds opponents to just a .197 average while posting a 6.03 K/9. This ride is going to come crashing down to earth.
157 – League leading strikeout total posted by Yu Darvish, over just 119.1 innings. He has improved his strikeout rates while lowering his walk totals; always a recipe for success. His one bug-a-boo on the year has been the long ball. He has he given up 15 already, one more than he gave up all last season.
*All statistics include the games of Thursday June 18.